The Press in France | They will vote for the first time

Daytime interior, Salle des Pas Perdus at Sciences Po in Bordeaux. The journalist from The Press calls out to students working at a table. We are curious to know what young French people think of the current presidential campaign. These three are passionate about politics. They are informed. They have opinions. Significant detail: they will also vote for the very first time… Cross-conversation.

Posted yesterday at 6:00 a.m.

Jean-Christophe Laurence

Jean-Christophe Laurence
The Press

You are 18 years old. You are going to vote for the first time. What does it do to you?

Paul Brindeau: It’s exciting. Because it is important in the life of a citizen. There is a whole symbolism around that.

Noémie Boespflug: We studied theory for quite a long time. Really now! In sciences po, we study a bit of everything that comes close to that, so it’s interesting to be part of it, to be able to influence.

Lison Blanc: I accompanied my parents to the polling stations when I was little. So that kind of mythologized the thing. The presidential election is still a notch above the rest.

It is said that young people are not interested in politics. Why do you think?

NB: Many of my friends, those who are interested in it, it is to be able to protest. They do not feel listened to and do not recognize themselves in the candidates. There is a crisis of representativeness. So they prefer to go to demonstrations, to find other means of expression.

PB: I don’t think young people are losing interest in politics, but they are interested in it differently. There has been a change in the way we access it. Before, it was traditional media. Today it’s social media.

LB: Yes, that’s it. I don’t think it’s a lack of interest in politics. It is rather a change in the means of action, a fed up with political traditions as they have been anchored for generations. In addition, it is always the same personalities who turn. It’s harder to identify. I find that there is a growing distance between elected officials and ordinary people. They are professional politicians who are not necessarily aware of the realities around them.

Who are you going to vote for? You know ?

LB: Still undecided, but rather clumsy. The socialist? The communist? The rest of the political spectrum is out of the question. With its discriminating discourse, the far right is certainly not an option. But still… I feel like I’m voting “out of spite”.

PB: I will go and vote for Macron for the project he is promoting. Integration in Europe. The economic project. This desire to develop French growth. I’m sensitive to all of that.

NB: Macron presents himself as a president of the center, but I clearly see him as someone on the right. Not for me. In fact, no candidate seems ideal to me. But I might favor Anne Hidalgo, who is supposed to be feminist, pro-LGBT and social rights. And then it’s a woman, even if it’s not my main criterion.

And the environment? Isn’t that the cause of your generation? Is there anyone at this table who votes green?

PB: This is a subject that is very important. We must integrate it as soon as possible. We are now seeing the consequences of years of inaction. We see the world becoming more and more devastated. It is urgent to adapt our models. But a program that deals only with the environment is not enough.

NB: Just because a candidate is green doesn’t mean he’s going to suit me. Yannick Jadot [Europe Écologie Les Verts] focuses on ecology, it might interest me. But it’s too right for me. It is not enough to have the green label to say that it is valid.

There is a lot of talk about electronic voting in France, as a means of countering the problem of abstention, especially among young people. Is it something that hooks you?

LB: I always found it exciting to accompany my parents to the polling station. I don’t mind having to move. But as this time I cannot travel to Nantes, where I am registered on the electoral lists, I will have to take the steps for a proxy vote. In this specific case, a dematerialization of the vote would not have been too much [rires] !

NB: Voting by telephone seems more practical to me and may perhaps encourage some young people who did not vote, out of laziness. But I’m afraid that the anti-solemn aspect that this provides will lead citizens even more to discredit the elections… If we get to that, we should ensure that the solemn aspect is safeguarded!

The war in Ukraine is hitting the presidential election head-on. Does it change your perception of the campaign? Candidates? Do you talk about it in your lessons?

LB: In my opinion, this is an extremely delicate situation and no candidate more than another seems capable of managing this. But this is not an event that will affect my vote.

NB: To my great surprise, the subject, recurring in conversations, is not discussed that much in class. One cannot ignore Macron’s efforts in dialogue. It changes my perception of him a bit. But I am convinced that I do not want to repeat five years under his mandate.

How do you get informed, by the way?

LB: Mainly on the internet and social networks. I read some articles from World when I get the notifications. Otherwise the HugoDecrypt account. It makes good and fast summaries of the news in real time and in a very clear way. It is an easily accessible source of information for me.

NB: For me, Brut is a media on Instagram that allows you to learn about events or to make a quick summary of a situation in a short and very dynamic video. His information has always seemed reliable to me. Otherwise, the media that I consider relatively neutral. France Inter. The world. The Amnesty International site, because it’s often the aspect that interests me the most.

Climate, COVID-19, Ukraine: your generation is not very spoiled. But despite everything, we feel that you still believe in it…

PB: There is this first impression that everything is going to hell. But what do we do? Either we do nothing, or we are there and we try to find solutions. It’s almost stimulating. It is necessary to cultivate a little enthusiasm rather than to mope. It pushes us to be creative. Innovate.

NB: My first instinct would be to tell myself that there is no one representing us and we know that we are all going to die. But that doesn’t stop us from going to vote! It’s very important to express yourself no matter what, otherwise you’ll never change anything.

LB: I agree with Paul and Noémie. If we assume that it won’t change anything, it won’t change anything. We can have our say. We may want to express ourselves through other means of action and expression. We must not be passive. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, there are still things to do…

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